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Does Fedora package maintainers test packages at all before they are distributed to thousands of people?

asked 2016-12-22 12:34:19 -0500

mads gravatar image

There has been several instances where updates has rendered some affected programs unusable and in such a way that anyone simply running it would have discovered it.

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What did you find wasnt working for you? I found vlc crashing upon startup. Just curious what else is broken?? Terminal, gcc, emacs seem to good so far. As well as Chrome and video in chrome.

I also noticed something weird for the screen lock. The cursor was frozen and wouldnt move. I had to hard shutdown. But not sure if that is a persistent problem. Have to try to repeat

technog1 gravatar imagetechnog1 ( 2016-12-22 16:10:32 -0500 )edit

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answered 2016-12-22 18:53:36 -0500

mattdm gravatar image

Yes, absolutely. Maintainers test their own packages, and then submit them to Updates Testing by creating a new entry in Bodhi, our updates-handling system.

From there, anyone using the updates-testing repository will get that update — usually the next day. While the update is in testing, anyone with a Fedora account can log into Bodhi and give +1 or -1 votes, and can also note if specific bugs are fixed. If the maintainer or a QA team member has written a test plan for the update, those will be options to check, too.

If you look at , you can see an update to the Geeqie image viewer I made earlier this year, and notice the linked test case. I got three instances of feedback, two of which are just +1 with comments "works" and "no problems spotted", while the other also checked off the boxes showing that they verified that the update fixes the linked bug and that they went through the test case.

Maintainers can set their package to be "pushed" from updates-testing to the regular updates stream if the vote reaches a certain threshold, and this is set to +3 by default. (For critical packages, any -1 will stop the automatic push regardless of the total.) Or, maintainers can also opt to not use this automatic system, and may choose to push to stable manually after 14 days in testing. If, during this testing period, there's a problem, the package can be "un-pushed" from testing (and presumably then replaced with a fixed update).

It sounds like you had a bad experience. Sorry that happened. It's pretty rare that a maintainer pushes a totally broken package, but it's possible — remember, the vast bulk of Fedora is maintained by volunteers, and sometimes things happen. (If you need a distribution where each package is checked by paid engineers, there's always RHEL!)

There are a number of things you can do to help. Of course, you could join the QA team. Or, you can enable Updates Testing on at least one of your systems, and provide feedback on updates as they come in. Or, you could just subscribe to the RSS feed for a package you care about (like this one for geeqie) and test updates as they come in.

As a project, we're working on increasing automated testing of updates. We should have a new system in place literally any day now where packagers can add tests which are run automatically on every build.

Another way to help is to help write those test plans I mentioned earlier. You don't need to be a packager or even a member of the QA team. Just follow the process to create the right pages in the wiki, and they'll automatically be linked in future Bodhi updates.

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Would this be for unit testing ? system testing ? I might be interested

technog1 gravatar imagetechnog1 ( 2016-12-22 19:12:42 -0500 )edit

At Bodhi you can push packages to stable after 7 days without any feedback/karma, not ideal.

geforce gravatar imagegeforce ( 2016-12-23 01:01:54 -0500 )edit

@technog1 The automated tests initially are generally going to be unit tests, I think, but there's room for integration tests. Ideally, the test plans would be larger in scope and include some integration testing.

mattdm gravatar imagemattdm ( 2016-12-23 09:46:07 -0500 )edit

@leigh123linux It's not perfectly ideal, but on the other hand, for more obscure packages, there just aren't always enough testers with interest — and it's usually not a big deal. Example: I maintain a package called "dateutils" which contains handy command-line tools for math with times and dates. ("How long have I been in this job?" datediff 2014-06-03 now) I recently updated this to a new version, but no one has noticed. Probably that's because few people are using it, and anyone who is and has updates-testing enabled got the update and it just worked so they didn't think to report anythi

mattdm gravatar imagemattdm ( 2016-12-23 09:49:44 -0500 )edit

answered 2016-12-22 18:03:27 -0500

sideburns gravatar image

Yes, the maintainers test new packages as best they can before putting them in special testing repos. Then, if enough people (generally three) report that the package is working OK for them, they're sent to the regular repos. Of course, the maintainers and the testers can't test every possible combination of software and hardware so things sometimes slip through. If you're having trouble because updates don't work, it's possible that you have something unusual about your setup that's causing it. If you want to help make Fedora better, file bug reports at Bugzilla so that your issues can be addressed, rather than just complain about the maintainers not doing their jobs properly.

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So few users actually test and leave karma at bodhi, a lot of packages are pushed without it

As for reporting bugs, ABRT is a curse, I don't even looks a reports unless the user provides full steps to reproduce the issue.

geforce gravatar imagegeforce ( 2016-12-23 00:57:04 -0500 )edit

@leigh123linux On your updates waiting for karma, it might be good to start an outreach effort to the Fedora Cinnamon user community and see if we can get some enthusiastic people interested in testing. There are probably people who would do it who don't even realize that it's important — and easy.

mattdm gravatar imagemattdm ( 2016-12-23 09:51:17 -0500 )edit

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Asked: 2016-12-22 12:34:19 -0500

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Last updated: Dec 22 '16